This has bright flowers, but the foliage is dreadfully harsh. The stem is from one to three feet tall, often widely branching, with white bristles scattered over it, and the leaves are dull green and bristly. The flowers are pretty, about half an inch long, with narrow sepals and bright orange corollas, with five bright red spots between the lobes. The nutlets are roughened with short, hard points. These plants are very common and sometimes form rank thickets in fields and waste places. They are very abundant in southern Arizona and are valued as a grazing plant for stock and are therefore known as Saccato Gordo, which means "fat grass."

There are many kinds of Cryptanthe, most of them western and difficult to distinguish. They are slender, hairy plants, with small flowers, which are usually white, in coiled clusters; the calyx bristly; the corolla funnel-form, usually with five crests closing the throat; the nutlets never wrinkled. These plants resemble white Forget-me-nots and are sometimes so called. The Greek name means "hidden flower," perhaps because of the minute flowers of some kinds.